Barking dogs, crying babies, Internet and TV chatter, and the sound of video games being played over and over again were all part of the holidays for me.
But I’m happy to report that, with the season safely behind us, I’m relishing the relative quiet of my work and home environment.
It also leaves me some time to reflect on how to go about minimizing noise in a household during those times of raucous merrymaking.
I’ve discovered that our kitchen, now so charmingly open and accessible to all (thanks to long-awaited renovations), is loud during large gatherings. All the lovely new hard surfacing such as tiles and countertops and backsplashes reflect right back at you the loud laughs, clattering dishes, excited dog barks and shrieks from over-stimulated children.
Sensible people might consider rationing the sugar and leaving the dog in a doggie hotel, and I might just consider it next year. Of course, I might have also anticipated noise and built sound attenuation technology into my home, but that didn’t happen. So for those of you in a similar situation, let me pass on the results of my reflections on how home decor can easily be used to help minimize noise.
If a home is newly built or renovated or is simply sparsely decorated, sound waves have many smooth, reflective surfaces to bounce from, unobstructed, and noise becomes an issue.
Particularly in a large room, such as a family room, you need soft (porous) surfaces to absorb noise rather than reflective hard surfacing.
That doesn’t mean every surface has to be covered in fabric. A good rule of thumb is to cover at least 25 per cent of surfaces in a room in fabric or sound-attenuating finishes.
For example, a rug on the floor — on any type of uncarpeted flooring — will do wonders. Not only does it prevent loud clattering and footfalls, but it helps absorb ambient noise.
Sofas and chairs upholstered with fabric also provide a surface that absorbs noise, as do fabric cushions and throw blankets.
If it works with your décor style, also consider covering a long unadorned wall with fabric panels, a wall hanging or patterned rug to help dampen sound.
– Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for the TV show Arresting Design; firstname.lastname@example.org.